Big tech companies may be handling Hong Kong user data to China

Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Big tech companies may be complying with China's confidential requests and handling the data of Hong Kong users to China, according to senior US state department official.

The allegation of possible secret cooperation between major companies and Hong Kong authorities follows the implementation of a sweeping and controversial new national security law that allows Hong Kong authorities to demand sensitive user data from companies if it is deemed to threaten national security.

While some tech and social media companies, like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, said in the immediate aftermath of the law being implemented in June that they would put a “pause” on complying with any Hong Kong data requests, interviews with activists, legal experts, and a current and former US government official have raised doubts about their ability to fend off such legal demands and their right to disclose if they have received them.

The state department official said: “There is a possibility that things are happening but because of the restrictions put on by the Hong Kong authorities, they [companies] would not be able to divulge this.”

The official added that if the request was “detoured” into the mainland legal system it would fall into a “black hole”.

“The company would be told by mainland authorities ‘you will be breaking the [law] if you reveal the fact that I’m asking for this information,’” the official said.

Facebook and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Microsoft said: “As we would with any new legislation, we are reviewing the new law to understand its implications. In the past, we’ve typically received only a relatively small number of requests from Hong Kong authorities, but we are pausing our responses to these requests as we conduct our review.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the remarks by the state department official.

Source: TheGuardian

Publish : 2020-09-30 17:00:46

Give Your Comments